Tag Archive | uas

Human Side(s) of UAVs – Mr. Patrick Meier exclusive for dronologista

Dear friends,

Although only five months young, dronologista blog has grown and needs a new attire.

As of 1st of September, dronologista.com moves to a new hosting, new address and slightly changes the appearance . Content will remain the same, and dronologista will continue to provide information about non-military drones only.

Enjoy!

It is with genuine pleasure to share exclusive short interview with a pioneer in „digital humanitarian efforts“ (as praised by Mr. Clinton). For those not familiar with this super-visionary person, he is the one that launched UAViators and then iRevolutionMr. Patrick Meier himself. Whoever is interested at least a bit in humanitarian work and UAVs at the same time, should definitely pay a visit to those hubs of UAVs news and updates.

Mr. Patrick Meier

Mr. Patrick Meier

DM: How did you come up with idea of organizing online community for collecting samples of humanitarian use of UAV’s?

Mr. Meier: I was in the Philippines working with UN/OCHA shortly after Typhoon Haiyan and was struck by the number of different UAV projects that we’re going in. This was truly unprecedented. I was also concerned that none of the teams running these UAV projects had any idea about each other. This not only presents issue vis-a-vis operational safety and inefficient use of resources. I also noticed that most UAV projects did not share their imagery with local communities, nor did they engage local communities in any meaningful way. So I knew it was time to launch this community of practice. I personally have been flying UAVs for about 2 years now, and I started precisely because I wanted to explore how they might be used in humanitarian settings. But I didn’t expect to launch the Humanitarian UAV Network as soon as I did. It really was my experience in the Philippines that accelerated my decision to set up UAViators.

DM: What is the exact purpose of UAViators.org?

Mr. Meier: To create a global volunteer network of responsible civilian and hobbyist UAV pilots in order to facilitate information sharing, coordination and operational safety in support of humanitarian efforts. The purpose of this network is to be pro-active in educating new civilians pilots rather than waiting for mistakes to be made. The mission is thus two-fold, facilitating safe operations and establishing standards for the use of UAVs in broad humanitarian contexts.

DM: Do you find room for future extensive exploitations of UAVs, in the respect of humanitarian actions?

Mr. Meier: Yes, I believe it is inevitable that UAVs will become mainstream technologies in the humanitarian space; not only for multi-sensor data collection but also for the transport of small payloads and for providing 3G/4G & wifi services in areas where cell phone towers etc have been destroyed.

DM: Do you have any contact with international organizations, in regards with possible UAVs engagement?

Mr. Meier: Yes, several, including the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Action (UN OCHA) and the American Red Cross, for example.

DM: Do you find public skeptical when it comes to use UAVs in humanitarian actions?

Mr. Meier: Less and less so. They are more skeptical about law enforcement uses, though, primarily because of understandable worries around data privacy. But Amazon’s foray into the drone space is certainly helping us in the humanitarian space by demonstrating the very real possibilities of UAVs.

DM: Are you personally satisfied with the developments of UAViators.org?

Mr. Meier: Yes, and very surprised that the Network has evolved so quickly with so many different key initiatives like the Crisis Map and Travel/Laws Wiki, for example.

DM: What is the future development plan in regards with UAViators.org? (If not confidential, of course)

Mr. Meier: We have several plans lined up including the launching of a training and certification course on UAVs for humanitarian organizations.

DM: Have you been engaged previously in any sort of humanitarian actions?

Mr. Meier:Yes, I’ve been involved in the humanitarian space in one way or another for about 12 years now.

DM: Beside UAViators.org, is there anything else you could share with us regarding the human side(s) of UAV?

Mr. Meier: Perhaps some of these posts may be of interest: iRevolution.

Hereby I would like to thank Mr. Patrick Meier on his time and willingness to share some more information with me. I am perfectly aware of amount of daily tasks he is facing. However we strongly support the enthusiasm and visionary that Mr Meier promotes in regard of humanitarian deployment of UAVs in the future. Furthermore I am going to update you guys on any news coming from Mr. Meier „kitchen“.
Picture and video property of iRevolution.net

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VertiKUL – parcel delivery UAV

Dear friends,

Although only five months young, dronologista blog has grown and needs a new attire.

As of 1st of September, dronologista.com moves to a new hosting, new address and slightly changes the appearance . Content will remain the same, and dronologista will continue to provide information about non-military drones only.

Enjoy!

One of the main disadvantages of copter drones is their low energy efficiency: in order to create and maintain a sufficient lift, a lot of energy is needed, thus decreasing the endurance of the UAV. That is a serious obstacle for anyone trying to develop copter drones for parcel delivery. The solutions for UAV parcel delivery proposed so far include increasing energy efficiency of copters or van-drone multimodal transport system that combines the advantages of both vehicles.

Master’s students Cyriel Notteboom, Menno Hochstenbach and Maarten Verbandt from University of Lueven had different idea. When they were given the task for their Master thesis to build a drone, they were not told not to create something extraordinary. But it seems they did. After one year of intensive work, they came out with VertiKUL, a vertical take off and landing (VTOL) UAV that takes off like a helicopter, but flies like a fixed wing aircraft.

VertiKUL

VertiKUL

VertiKUL can carry up to 1kg (~2 lbs) to a distance of 30 km (~18,5 miles) with a single battery charge. It takes off vertically with the help of four propellers, and then, in midair the drone rotates its nose 90° forward, making the transition from take-off  to flying mode.  The stability during transition phase is achieved by independent propeller adjustment. When rotation is finished, the drone continues to fly like a conventional aircraft, using wings to increase energy efficiency during forward propulsion.

It won’t be soon before VertiKUL becomes parcel delivery workhorse however. It still has to solve some issues with landing in high winds, and negotiating changing weather conditions. And of course, there are minor legal challenges to be overcome before people start getting their books delivered to their back patio.

But as a proof of concept, this UAV might just be the thing Amazon is looking for, and will be the next generation of delivery drones they are testing.

Interesting articles about VertiKUL can be found on University of Lueven webpage, and at www.geek.com.

Image courtesy of University of Lueven. Video courtesy of Menno Hochstenbach.

 

Top 5 by dronologista @Robohub

Dear friends,

Although only five months young, dronologista blog has grown and needs a new attire.

As of 1st of September, dronologista.com moves to a new hosting, new address and slightly changes the appearance . Content will remain the same, and dronologista will continue to provide information about non-military drones only.

Enjoy!

On 30th of May, a comment appeared on the About page of this blog. Hallie Siegel, the Managing Editor from Robohub, an excellent online communication platform for, well, robotics mostly, proposed to me to cross-post articles. After a brief Skype interview, I agreed (of course!) to share my blog posts, and to join an impressive group of contributors that included UAV heavyweights such as Chris Anderson and prof. dr. Raffaello D’Andrea.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=waUY6hlG-3k

Two months fast forward, and there are ten articles by dronologista at Robohub. Some of them are more some less successful, but all of them were interesting enough to grab attention of Robohub visitors. Here are the top 5 that were generating quite a lot of traffic:

  1. Drone Startups: Fotokite – This article is a part of ongoing series of Drone Startups posts. It is about a startup that designed what is basically a powered kite, not a quite a drone, ideally suited to dodge FAA scrutiny. The article was submitted to Slashdot harnessing traffic from it, and was even reposted on DIYDrones. Great success!
  2. Quadrotor allegedly seen spying on French teams closed practice at World Cup – Published during the World Cup craze, it attracted a lot of people. French coach Didier Deschamps was calling for investigation after a quadcopter was spotted spying over his team’s closed training session. It was not revealed whose drone it was, but since we know now that it was Germany that beat the French team in quarterfinals, it seems that Germans used high-tech solution to get to semifinals. No drones spied on Brazil team though, so I am out of theories why they lost 7-1.
  3. Rescue drone that finds survivors using their cellphones’ WiFi signals – Post about a UAV that was designed by team of students from EFPL. It includes the interview with Jonathan Cheseaux, the man behind the project.
  4. The thriving drone community of South Africa – While most of the stories found around the internet is focused on drones in US, this post covered a country that is not often featured online in connection to drones. Yet, a thriving community exists, and is very productive and creative.
  5. HorseFly unmanned aerial parcel delivery system – This post described something that could be Amazon’s wet dream. A combined transport system that uses both a van and a UAV to deliver the parcel, utilizing both vehicles advantages.

Those were 5 of mine most popular articles at Robohub after two months of collaboration, which I hope, will continue to flourish. I wonder if I will be able to completely redefine this list in six months time. Just a personal challenge for dronologista 🙂

What is your favorite blog post by dronologista?

The Flying Donkey Challenge on hold

Dear friends,

Although only five months young, dronologista blog has grown and needs a new attire.

As of 1st of September, dronologista.com moves to a new hosting, new address and slightly changes the appearance . Content will remain the same, and dronologista will continue to provide information about non-military drones only.

Enjoy!

One of the most interesting competitions, The Flying Donkey Challenge that was scheduled to happen in November 2014. has been put on hold.

Tragic terrorist attacks on Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi and more recent one that happened in the Kenyan coastal town of Lamu, made it clear that organizing a public drone event in Kenya is incompatible with immediate security concerns.

The full statement of the organizers:

“The Flying Donkey Challenge idea started almost two years ago and for the past year we have been planning the first edition in Kenya.

We have had tremendous support from Kenyan partners including: IBM Research, University of Nairobi – FabLab, Lewa & NRT Conservancy, SGS, Sandstorm, and many friends of the FDC. The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) and military air traffic controllers at Nanukyi have been very helpful in working with us to find solutions to organise a life changing event. We would like to thank all of them for their trust and commitment to the project.

Due to delays in obtaining final approvals from the Kenyan authorities, we took the difficult decision in April to postpone the first edition of the FDC. Beginning with the horrific Westgate attack last September in Nairobi and following the tragic terrorist attacks near Lamu this month, it has become clear that organising a high visibility drone event in Kenya is incompatible with immediate security concerns. To be clear, it is not that cargo drone testing presents any threat whatsoever to Kenya, or that international participants would be at risk from travelling to Kenya, but only that, for the coming months, the overseers of civil and military aviation in Kenya have made it clear they are unlikely to be able to sign off on legal precedents for autonomous flight.

Since April, we have been pursuing air space approvals and locations in other African locations. While these talks have been productive, our unfortunate conclusion is that we will not be able to confirm a new date and location in 2015. Without a clear time-scale, closing on the budget is not possible. Taking into account the speed with which research and commercial drone ventures are proceeding, we feel it unfair to leave the teams that have applied for the Challenge in limbo and prefer to put the Flying Donkey Challenge in its current format on hold.

We strongly believe in the future of cargo drones and are looking into ways to reposition some of the great ideas and projects presented. The goal is unchanged: a new transport industry of donkey-sized cargo drones in Africa and beyond that can safely and affordably move 20-50 kilo payloads on low-altitude routes, creating jobs and growing economies.

We look forward to a booming flying donkey future.”

Let’s hope that the new date will be set soon, and that 2015. will be a better year for the Flying Donkey Challenge.

Flying Donkey Challenge

Flying Donkey Challenge

Drone Startups part 12: SR2

Dear friends,

Although only five months young, dronologista blog has grown and needs a new attire.

As of 1st of September, dronologista.com moves to a new hosting, new address and slightly changes the appearance . Content will remain the same, and dronologista will continue to provide information about non-military drones only.

Enjoy!

The problem identified by guys from SR2 is typical for every emerging market: there is no end-to-end solution yet. There are number of industries that could harness the potential of UAV, but they lack the skills and/or resources to design and build a reliable and professional system that fits their needs.

SR2 wants to provide solution: a professional UAV system that industrial players can use as a platform to develop their own applications. The system consists of:

  • payload independent UAV
  • base station
  • ruggedized remote control
  • automatic cloud data storage and processing

 

SR2 System

SR2 System

The UAV is prioritizes safety, redundancy and reliability to mitigate customer concerns about equipment failure, damage, loss and legal liability. To that end, SR2 has on onboard safety systems, including an emergency parachute.

SR2 UAV

SR2 UAV

The remote control console looks sleek and efficient, without too many components. SR2 team claims to have identified many industrial engineering improvements that could make it more durable.

SR2 remote control console

SR2 remote control console

 

A thing that should distinguish SR2 system from other systems that could enter the market, would be the team that stands behind the name. They are having a lot of experience in robotics, engineering, product development manufacturing, and perhaps most importantly, global sales and support.

The concept that SR2 offers could be very attractive for industries that could use UAV with limited autonomy for their needs. Inspection of equipment or infrastructure that is difficult to reach (e.g. wind turbines) is exactly the task for which this system has been built. If the SR2 manages to provide a true industrial end-to-end solution for UAV application, it could be a very successful story.

More information on SR2 webpage, they have even some interesting job openings.

Pictures courtesy of SR2.

Drones get legal support

Dear friends,

Although only five months young, dronologista blog has grown and needs a new attire.

As of 1st of September, dronologista.com moves to a new hosting, new address and slightly changes the appearance . Content will remain the same, and dronologista will continue to provide information about non-military drones only.

Enjoy!

It is no news that the technology used in unmanned aircraft systems is rapidly evolving. Unfortunately, it seems that lawmakers are not that quick to follow, and their response to this phenomenon is not constructive, to put it mildly. More often than not, commercial drone operators were helpless when facing prosecution.

That is about to change. Husch Blackwell, a litigation and business law firm with offices in US and United Kingdom, has introduced its unmanned aerial systems (UAS) group, which will assist commercial business users and manufacturers in navigating the requirements for UAS and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

The multi-disciplinary team, led by Tom Gemmel a former fighter pilot, consists of attorneys with a broad range of regulatory, technical and hands-on experience and specialize in the practices that matter most in this growing industry. One of the team members is a military intelligence officer who has experience with UAS information collection and analysis as well as development of UAS intelligence products.

This smart move will most probably establish Husch Blackwell as the top legal provider for drone operators at odds with authorities. Knowing how FAA randomly prosecutes “offenders”, this law firm will get a lot of new clients quickly.

Among them will most certainly not be the Archdiocese of Washington D.C, since their drones are not affected by earthly laws.

 

SenseFly eBee RTK – new tool for aerial mapping

Dear friends,

Although only five months young, dronologista blog has grown and needs a new attire.

As of 1st of September, dronologista.com moves to a new hosting, new address and slightly changes the appearance . Content will remain the same, and dronologista will continue to provide information about non-military drones only.

Enjoy!

On June 11th, senseFly announced arrival of their new flier: eBee RTK. It is a survey-grade aerial mapping tool that enables the collection of aerial photography to produce orthomosaics and digital elevation models with absolute accuracy of down to 3 cm. Their previous aerial mapping UAV, the eBee, had accuracy of 5cm, and it still produced quite impressive results, as it can be seen on the video below:

Weighing just 0.7 kg (1.5 lbs) the eBee RTK is one of the lightest drones on the market. Its flexible foam airframe and rear-mounted propeller are designed to ensure the safety of both the drone and the people on the ground. Autonomy is approximately 40 minutes on a single battery charge, flying with cruising speed between 36-57km/h. The eBee RTK can also resist winds of up to 45km/h (12m/s).

senseFly eBee RTK

senseFly eBee RTK

 

According to the specification, eBee RTK has approaching angle of 20°, which allows it to land in confined spaces. Usually, approaching angle for fixed wing UAV is around 5°.  Also, eBee RTK has integrated fallback procedures: if the eBee RTK’s sensors detect a critical situation a warning is shown via its eMotion ground control software. The eBee RTK then automatically initiates the relevant safety procedure, such as returning to its landing point if its battery runs low or strong wind is detected, or starting to climb if it detects it is close to the ground.

Important features:

  • 16MP still camera
  • up to 3km radio link
  • linear landing

Package contains:

  • eBee RTK body and detachable wings (incl. autopilot and electronics)
  • above mentioned 16MP still camera
  • 2,4 GHz ground modem for data link
  • two Li-Po battery packs and charger
  • spare propeller
  • Carry case with foam protection
  • Remote control and accessories
  • user manual
  • fully featured software

The eBee RTK should be available on the market in third quarter of 2014.

Detailed info about the product you can find on senseFly webpage.

Image and video courtesy of Parrot and senseFly.